Hope for Justice, a non-profit group which runs anti-trafficking programs in the United States and six other countries, has strongly endorsed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2021 ahead of its introduction into the House of Representatives today at noon EDT (Friday, September 3).
Hope for Justice provided recommendations and expert insight that was included in the draft Bill by its co-sponsors, Reps Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Karen Bass (D-California).
The sections that Hope for Justice led on are aimed at preventing human trafficking in federal contract supply chains, particularly hotels, lodgings, and air transportation. The Bill would require that federal agencies utilize preferred accommodations, which have zero-tolerance policies on human trafficking and provide employee training. They must also have systems in place to report suspected exploitation on the premises to the authorities.
The Frederick Douglass Bill also seeks to:
-Place further anti-trafficking requirements on domestic air carriers that provide air transportation to the federal government and provide additional funds to train airport and airline personnel.
-Establish two teams of 10 agents each assigned exclusively to investigate labor trafficking, one at Department of Justice Civil Rights Unit of the FBI and one at the Department of Homeland Security Center for Countering Human Trafficking.
-Via a non-binding Sense of Congress resolution, it urges the Executive Branch to ensure counter-trafficking-in-persons policies are adopted by all medium and large businesses.
Hope for Justice co-founder and GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Natalie Grant was invited to speak at the draft Bill’s launch at a press conference held today. She spoke of her own journey into learning about human trafficking and becoming part of the fight against it more than 17 years ago, and welcomed all of the above elements of the Bill. She said: “We celebrate and endorse the way this Bill brings together federal and international governments, the business sector, faith organizations, providers and survivors, as we believe all of us must work together to end trafficking.”
Tim Nelson, CEO of Hope for Justice, said: “This Bill will do immense good in preventing exploitation and in helping to extinguish the conditions in which human trafficking thrives. We are proud of our role in the drafting of this legislation and we endorse it strongly today. Thank you to the co-sponsors and in particular to Representative Chris Smith, who has championed the anti-trafficking cause in Congress for many years.”
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), first passed by Congress more than 20 years ago, expires this year and must be reauthorized for the sixth time. The Bill to do so today is named for Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery in 1818, but escaped and was at the forefront of the original movement to abolish slavery and then to ending the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation and racism. A national education and public policy organization founded by his direct descendants, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, is a primary stakeholder in the new bill, with Hope for Justice and other non-profits offering expert insight on particular sections in a collaborative fashion.
While slavery has been abolished in the United States and almost every other country on earth, severe forms of human trafficking persist to this day and amount to a modern-day form of slavery – particularly sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The United States has not generated a national estimate of the number of people affected, however the best independent estimate comes from a 2018 study that found that on any given day, there were likely to be 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States.